There are currently many different disruptive forces acting on markets and Dutch consumers. There is historically high inflation, and at the same time a tight and tense labour market and robust geopolitical tensions. This creates a lot of uncertainty. All these forces are acting on organisations and consumers with varying effects or consequences. The average customer experience is under pressure in many sectors due to, for example, staff shortages. This ranges from problems at airports and cancelled flights to cancelled trains or sometimes empty shelves. In addition, many consumers are experiencing significant pressure on their disposable income due to increased energy and food costs. As a result, consumer behaviour is also changing; customers are becoming more conscious of their money and making different trade-offs in the process. Questions that resonate with consumers are: How much will I have to pay for my groceries this month? Is the increase in energy prices realistic or will I have to pay extra? What is the best way to save my money? How do I know if I am entitled to the price cap? These alarming questions are increasingly common among Dutch consumers, and have a significant impact on the overall customer experience (CX).

Customer experience is no longer a new term by now. Every company today is aware that a good customer experience can determine how successful you are. From the KPMG Six Pillars framework, customer experience can be approached from six pillars: Integrity, Resolution, Expectations, Time & Effort, Personalisation and Empathy. For 13 years, KPMG has been measuring brands' customer service performance globally. Consumers have so far indicated in all annual measurements that Personalisation is the most important pillar for them. Optimal personalisation requires a deep understanding of the customer, being able to detect patterns and see when an intervention will make a positive difference. With today's technology, this can be well set up. But in addition to technically setting up personalisation by using the right customer insights, human understanding is at least as important. Empathy, the pillar that stands for being able to empathise with the customer's personal situation, gives an emotional depth to personalisation. Properly understanding which emotions drive human behaviour can make all the difference here.

Insights or interventions from Behavioural Science are a good tool for this. A commonly-used thinking framework within Behavioural Science is System 1 and System 2 thinking. System 1 stands for the part of the brain where impulses or signals are processed quickly and automatically to arrive at conclusions or behaviour. System 2 represents the reflective part of the brain, the part where we process and analyse signals more slowly and consciously. A more 'reason'-based process, so to speak, versus the more 'emotion'-based process that takes place in System 1. Most of the decisions we make as humans are driven from System 1. In it, the brain not infrequently takes a turn that is factually or objectively incorrect, but which is not corrected because we agree with the outcome. These, as it were, mental shortcuts are also called heuristics, of which more than 175 have now been identified by Behavioural Science  (BigThink, 2019).

Understanding these heuristics can be of great value in designing customer journeys. Simply knowing or understanding why people may make the wrong decision for them, or dare not make a decision at all, is the starting point for designing the right interventions to help those same people. Helping them to confidently make the decisions that are right for them. Professor Paul Dolan, together with some leading behavioural specialists, has developed the MINDSPACE behavioural framework. MINDSPACE addresses nine effects on human behaviour: Messenger, Incentive, Norms, Default, Saliency, Priming, Affect, Commitment and Ego. A practical model for applying psychological insights in non-academic settings in economic life.

Read below how organisations have implemented behavioural interventions from this framework in their customer service:

1. Default

(We are happy to go along with a limited pre-selection of choices)
Building a good pension is an important part of a stable economic future. But if you offer this as an option where workers have to take action for themselves, only a small minority build up a pension. This is not in their best interest. If you turn pension accrual 'on' (opt-out) by default, more than 90% accrue pension. If they don't want to, they can take action themselves. Default is thus an intervention which serves the customer's interest. Another example can be seen in parcel delivery. Until recently, the default in parcel delivery was 'same or next-day'. This is not necessarily in the interest of the environment, but customers simply go along with the default. The default can be changed to delivery within three days for free and the 'next-day delivery' option can be offered as a second choice for a fee. Changing the default has a big positive impact on both emissions and operations. 

2. Norms

(We are strongly influenced by what others around us do)
By showing consumers how their energy consumption compares to similar households, people become more aware of their consumption. With this intervention, consumers can be encouraged to adjust their energy consumption. If energy bills show that more energy is consumed than in the average household, this will influence consumers to reduce their energy consumption. 

3. Saliency

(Our attention is drawn to things that are new/different and relevant)
Through personal finance apps, consumers can create budgets and piggy banks, among other things, to gain more insights into their finances. While saliency is often applied in terms of being noticeable, something can also be salient if it is personally relevant. The latter applies to personal finance apps. For instance, consumers receive notifications through the app when, for instance, an unusually high amount has been debited, or when 85% of the budget has already been spent, or when there is an outstanding payment. This attracts consumers' attention, as they receive personalised information when it is relevant to them. At the same time, consumers become more aware of their spending behaviour and are encouraged to save, so that they have a cushion for, say, lesser times.

4. Priming

(Our behaviour is influenced by subconscious signals)
Our subconscious is fed by our senses, among other things. By stimulating senses (smell, colour, taste, sound, texture, etc.), consumer behaviour can be influenced. In public transport, for example, a lemon scent is diffused to give the impression of a freshly cleaned station, making passengers feel more at ease and less inclined to pollute the space themselves.

These are just four examples of behavioural interventions that help organisations be more relevant and successful.

Especially at a time when consumers are more than ever emotionally challenged by all kinds of uncertainties, it is important to understand heuristics and weave behavioural interventions into customer service and communication. Curious about how to do this? KPMG Customer & Brand Advisory helps organisations in all sectors to design customer service distinctively through the integration of relevant intervention insights.

Contact Edgar Molenaars if you would like an inspiration session in your organisation on the nine interventions and how to apply them.

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